On the next day, we decided to visit Binh Tay Market in Cholon. Cholon is the Chinatown of HCMC and it is intense. I have visited a lot of markets in this world, and the Binh Tay Market is overwhelming. It is huge, confusing, and full of sensory overload. The Ben Thanh market was accessible and whoever designed the Binh Tay market did not design it for me. When Holly spotted a butcher cleaning her own toe with a knife we decided that we could not find breakfast there. We left the market and found a reprieve in a coffee shop. After the coffee, we visited the Quan Am Pagoda, a Buddhist temple, and the Phuoc An Hoi Quan Pagoda, a Taoist temple.
We took a taxi out of Cholon to visit the Jade Pagoda which was another Taoist temple. This is one of the more tourist accessible pagodas so it was overrun with visitors. No matter, it was fun to explore.
Afterwards we walked to a restaurant called Propaganda. I had a Bánh mì xíu mại, which is Vietnam’s answer to the meatball hoagie. Here is a real truth. I love meatball hoagies and this was no exception. Any culture that has meatball hoagies for lunch and noodles for breakfast is a favorite. A table of skinny woman (maybe from China?), sitting next to us, each ordered a banh mi. Each ate one half of their ordered sandwich. This outraged me to my very core. Leaving a hoagie for the trash is a sacrilege in Philadelphia.
The heat was becoming unbearable, so we decided to do a little shopping. We visited a cute store called Saigon Kitsch and bought some art prints. Afterwards, we escaped the heat in a mall. After a long day, we decided that we finished touring in HCMC and made our way to the airport. Finally we flew Vietnam Airlines to Danang and took a car to our hotel in Hoi An.
I’ll be honest with you. I did not enjoy HCMC. I hate it when people tell me not to go someplace or that it isn’t worth a visit, but I can’t recommend HCMC. The heat, the jet lag, and the stalker contributed to a bad time in that town. I might have liked it more at the end of my trip, but this experience was not a great. Vietnam has so many things I want to see, and I do not think HCMC should earn much time on anyone’s itinerary.